5 College Financial Aid Tips to Lower your Costs
Facing the cost of college can be daunting. It’s even more intimidating when you consider all the scholarships, loans, forms, and grants you have to learn how to navigate. The good news is you’re not alone. Every incoming college student must learn how to apply for college financial aid. Thankfully, you have the help of your financial aid office to ease the burden of college costs.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, here are five tips to tackle your college expenses and make the financial aid process as smooth as possible.
1. Start Now
Are you just realizing that you haven’t thought about financial aid for college yet? Or are you one step away from receiving everything you need for your college journey? Wherever you are, it’s time to take the next step. If you’re in the verification process, provide any additional information your school might need right away so that you can receive your financial aid and scholarships as soon as possible.
2. Be Selective about your Scholarships
You don’t have time to apply for every scholarship on and off the internet. That’s okay! The trick is to be selective about what you’re giving your time to. While you should apply for as many promising scholarships as you can, don’t waste your time on global submissions that 5,000 other students are filling out. Think small. Once you find your community foundation, essay contests and library competitions will start to add up.
In addition to this, reach beyond scholarships, and look for grants and college competitions as well. Grace College’s Presidential Scholarship Days are just one example of a wonderful opportunity to get to know your potential college, stay overnight in the dorms, and receive a scholarship based on an essay contest and interview.
As you select scholarships and competitions to apply for, it’s important to think about what your giftings are. If your accomplishments are best displayed in written/list form, find scholarships that enable you to highlight those. If you are an excellent communicator, try to find interview/speech opportunities.
3. Ask the College Financial Aid Staff for Resources
Our financial aid staff wants to point you in the right direction. Whether it’s connecting you with the right college loans or providing you with scholarship and grant opportunities, you will always have the support of your Grace College family behind you. The financial aid staff is always looking for outside scholarships to send to students in need, so reach out and express your interest!
If you’re still unsure how to apply for financial aid, we have a list of up-to-date forms and a step-by-step guide to the financial aid journey. According to the American Council on Education, there are millions of students who are eligible to receive financial aid, but they don’t receive funds available to them because they simply don’t fill out their FAFSA forms.1 This, along with other resources, can make all the difference in your financial experience.
4. Be as Accurate as Possible
When you’re filing your FAFSA or any other financial aid form, make sure you double-check your data. Round numbers to the nearest dollar, read the helpful hints the form provides, and include all the parental information you can, (even if you already live away from home). Make sure you split each parent’s income into their appropriate entries, rather than lumping it all together on one parent. Pay attention to these simple details.
5. Ask Questions!
We understand that financial aid is confusing and we’re here to help! If you have any questions about FAFSA, the Presidential Scholarship Days, or how to apply for college financial aid, we would love to answer them! Don’t let financial burden keep you from your college experience. Go with Grace!